Home Decor Wars: Walmart Takes on Target

Walmart Inc. (WMT), the world’s largest retailer, will launch a new online home goods shopping page as part of its larger initiative to redesign its e-commerce business and revamp digital sales. After releasing its most recent quarterly report this week, WMT saw its largest drop in years as investors feared a deceleration of its online retail growth amid heightened competitive pressure from rivals such as Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and Target Corp. (TGT). (See also: Amazon Launches Its Own Line of OTC Drugs.)

In the coming weeks, Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart will launch an upgraded and more stylish home decor shopping page that will allow customers to browse housewares and furniture based on their tastes. Products will be listed under nine style types, including categories such as glam, bohemian and Scandinavian, alongside traditional and modern. Instead of simply listing products and prices, the platform will attempt to show how various products will mesh together. 

"As a mass retailer, we know that customers shop differently across categories. Some categories are more transactional, like groceries and consumables, while others are more inspirational, like apparel and home," said Anthony Soohoo, group general manager of Walmart's U.S. eCommerce's home goods division. 

Sprucing Up Offerings as Segment's Growth Decelerates

The move will position Walmart more fiercely against competitors such as Target, following the launch of its new Opalhouse line this week. The new lineup joins the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based retailer's Magnolia brand with its classic Threshold, modern Project 62 and Hearth & Hand lines.

In the fiscal fourth quarter, Walmart posted digital sales up 23% compared to 50% growth in third quarter. For 2018, the company is expecting its online business to jump back to a 40% growth rate. Alongside plans to beef up its presence in the home decor business, Walmart will shift some marketing away from jet.com, which it said cost more to acquire new customers.

Trading down 0.2% on Friday morning at $92.57, WMT reflects a 6.3% loss year-to-date (YTD) and a 29.8% increase over the most recent 12 months. (See also: UPS, FedEx Fears on Amazon Are Overblown: JPMorgan.)

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